February 10, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

For some local Omaha business owners, work doesn’t necessarily mean no play.

Take entrepreneur Deborah Shimokawa, for example—creator and owner of the studio Baby Maestro and single mom extraordinaire. “I love to sing, and I love children,” Shimokawa says. “Those are my two passions. I thought: ‘If I can do something with both of those, I’ll be a very happy person.’”

Baby Maestro, created in 2004, is an early childhood music education program that offers various music, dance, and instrumental classes for parents to bond with their babies and young children. The concept isn’t exclusive to Omaha, though. Shimokawa actually picked up the idea after falling in love with a similar studio in Atlanta after the birth of her first child, Quinn.

“It was a two-fold benefit,” Shimokawa says.

“I could socialize with other moms about being new parents, and it was also a great bonding activity for Quinn and me. When I moved back to Omaha, I kind of looked around for a similar music program, but never found one that had that same happy feeling, so I said, ‘Well, I’ll start it.’”

In addition to running her own business, Shimokawa, a single mom, also juggles raising three kids aged 6 to 11 and navigating their endless repertoire of activities, which include but aren’t limited to soccer, baseball, basketball, flag football, and taekwondo lessons.

However, Baby Maestro has never been a burden that interferes with parent life, according to Shimokawa.

“The beauty of it is that I can still take my kids to school every day and help them with their homework, or take them to their activities,” she says. “I get to go out and work with passion and then come home and be with my kids and raise them. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Shimokawa adds that Baby Maestro is the perfect blend of work and play, where she can witness the relationships between parent and child that strengthen each day. Her highest reward is hearing the impact that her music classes have on her pint-sized students’ lives, whether that be babies bouncing to familiar tunes in the car or toddlers conducting their own dance classes for their parents.

“There are so many rewarding parts of my job,” Shimokawa says. “I signed a lease when my youngest was two weeks old, and I haven’t looked back. It was the best decision I could’ve
possibly made.”

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